The majority of right-wingers in Israel are interested in the integration and prosperity of the Arab sector. The right greatly respects the Arab-Israeli grassroots leaders and social activists who call for integration and partnership in a Jewish and democratic state, and takes pride in members of the Arab community who represent Israel as athletes, advocates, Israel Defense Forces soldiers or national-service volunteers.
It is precisely because of this yearning for greater integration that the country’s right-wing public is willing to give a hearing to Ra’am Party head Mansour Abbas instead of shunning him outright—especially since in his election campaign, he spoke out against isolationism and stressed the need for the Arab sector to resolve its issues through cooperation with the state.
But with all due respect to this great desire, a government reliant on Ra’am is not a solution—it is national suicide. This is not to say that we cannot work together with Ra’am on matters of mutual interest, but relying on it to form a government is a risk to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
It is important to understand what Ra’am represents. It is the political wing of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is affiliated with the terrorist organization Hamas.
The Islamic Movement in Israel is also backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who invests millions of shekels every year in it, in order to undermine Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, eastern Jerusalem, the Negev, the eastern Sharon Plain, Lod, Jaffa and the Galilee.
Mansour Abbas’s recent speech in Hebrew was only encouraging to those with selective hearing. After all, within the first minute of the speech, he described himself as a “man of the Islamic Movement,” and said that he “heads the largest and most senior political movement in Arab society.”
As any reasonable person can understand, he was not referring to the size of his party, which received fewer seats than the Joint Arab List. Rather, he was referring to the immense size and political power that the Islamic Movement enjoys in the Middle East. If not for the opposition of more moderate Arab countries, the movement would have turned half of the Middle East into “Islamistan.”
It is no accident, therefore, that Abbas’s initial list of demands included changing the Nation-State Law—the only one out of the 14 Basic Laws in Israel that enshrines the Jewish character of the state into law. Also among his demands was the cancelation of the Kaminitz Law, which would erode Israeli sovereignty by legalizing illegal Arab construction.
The absence of the Israeli flag behind him during his speech was telling, and also in congruence with the Islamic Movement, which will never recognize the Jewish state’s right to exist. In fact, Ra’am’s own charter labels Zionism racist, and states that “there can be no allegiance to [Israel], nor any identification with its Zionist, racist, occupier thought.”
This is because as far as its members are concerned, the land of Israel belongs to the Islamic Waqf and is being occupied by a foreign entity.
The only difference between the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, which Abbas represents, and what is perceived to be the more radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement, lies in the methods that they employ to carry out their goal of conquering the land of Israel. While the northern branch prefers a more radical approach, the southern branch takes a more strategic and political one.
The silence of right-wingers who support forming a government with the help of the Islamic Movement is puzzling, given its desire to change the Nation-State Law and its lack of encouragement of Arab Israelis to integrate by means of national or military service.
This willful ignoring of the plain and evident is reminiscent of the time when the followers of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin preferred to ignore the realities surrounding arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat because it was politically beneficial to do so.
Speaking of Arafat, one cannot help but be reminded of his infamous 1994 speech at a Johannesburg mosque, in which he explained that the Oslo Accords were just a temporary treaty, like that of Hudaybiyyah, signed by Muhammad in 628 C.E. with the tribe controlling Mecca, only to conquer the city two years later.
Similarly, just four days before Abbas’s speech in Hebrew, he gave another speech in Arabic to the members of his party, in which he lauded “our dear Palestinian Arab nation and society who experienced the Nakba [catastrophe of the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948] and clung to this land and maintained its identity.”
He stressed that “they are our source and the roots of this homeland,” and vowed that he would work “until this prized group from the Islamic nation becomes the jewel in the crown of the Arab Islamic Nation.”
It is absurd that anyone in Israel’s political system would even consider forming a government reliant on such a party, especially given that the nationalist camp already has an absolute majority. Sadly, however, because the various political leaders of the right can’t put their egos aside, they prefer to form an anti-Zionist government based on spite.
Now is the time to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do everything in his power to reconcile with New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, and to call on Sa’ar to put his personal rivalry with Netanyahu aside in order to help form a nationalist right-wing government.
There is no other choice. This has nothing to do with Netanyahu himself, but with the 30 mandates that Likud, the party that he heads, received. Leaving Netanyahu to team up with the Islamic Movement is to abandon the nationalist camp.
At the same time, if Netanyahu insists on forming a government that is reliant on Ra’am, it would be an ideological disengagement that, down the road, would lead to a disengagement more severe than that from Gush Katif.
Matan Peleg is the CEO of Im Tirtzu.
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